5.01.2011

Forever 21: I Love My Hair Tank

Curly Nikki posted this today and I am flabbergasted:

"Celeste wrote in and shared that Forever 21 has our shirt...cute, right? But something is definitely different about her, no? Wish she came in all shades of beautiful.

Priced at $13.80, will you get one?"


My response: Hell. no. WHAT!? I cannot. I just...sigh. The purpose of the video (below) is to encourage brown girls to embrace their natural hair. Affirmations of whiteness are default, we see them in media all the time. Yes, this video is about self love. Yes, this video is about personal affirmation (for all of us)...but the character is a black girl, and there's rarely affirmation for a curly girl out there. Putting a white face under that curly fro is unnecessary. Just triflin'. Ugh. Yes, the shirt is cute...Yes, for the price I'd be all up and through Forever 21 for it. But I mean...why?

What do y'all think? Am I overreacting?

Lemme know. Stay fabulous!

49 comments:

  1. Umm ...Hell naw....I wold react the same way.
    http://treasiredspotbookreviews.com

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  2. No your not there is a epidemic that's going around that only people with lighter skin are beautiful and not the entire chocolate rainbow... look at the "diverse" new models for Carol's Daughter... You didn't overreact i would i have flipped a switch too!

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  3. See I saw the character as lightskinned. But it's definitely problematic to change her skin tone either way. I took more issue with the model from forever21 being white with straight hair. That's just weird as i stated on curlynikki. Naw you are not overracting. Great points!

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  4. I actually think that if I saw this on a hanger instead of a white model, that I would think that the girl was light-skinned and I'd be thinking that there was another one for brown skin girls. I don't know. People and companies need to stop being cute and become more culturally aware and sensitive.

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  5. I don't think you're overreacting... I think F21 should have black models and I think the girl on the shirt should come in different shades or at least be darker ... I think you make great points!
    However ... it is a good movement forward, maybe? baby steps I guess .. *sigh*

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  6. I definitely don't think you were overreacting ... and I agree with Simplymedee about the light-skinned stigma. There was NO need to lighten the character's complexion and I also find it strange that the model doesn't even look like the character on the shirt. Thanks for sharing this.



    precious-curls.blogspot.com

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  7. And to add, they clearly did that for marketing reasons. As if less people would buy the shirt if the character had been at her original, DARKER skin tone. SMH at some of these companies.

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  8. The shirt is adorable. It's insane that the girl on the shirt is a lighter skin-tone, and it saddens me that Forever21 would market her in that way. :(

    As the SILVER lining however, its a start! Us natural curlies are really making a difference and changing the way blacks feel about our hair, and thats a good thing.

    Over reacting?-Not really, but there is a positive side to this situation.

    -CO

    misschari.blogspot.com

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  9. I wish they could have kept her skin tone! the shirt is adorable but I'm gone need somebody to tell me why the character is damn near white?????

    Its kind of sad that even through trying to promote positive self image they seem to make it seem as though a darker tone couldn't relay the same msg!

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  10. I think my sentiments have already been expressed here but I just wanted to pop in with confirmation. I think it's problematic that you assumed the character is white because had I seen that shirt on a hanger I probably would have interpreted a light-skinned person of African descent like myself and would most likely initially want to purchase it.

    But I also find problematic that they misrepresented the beautifully dark(er)-skinned Sesame Street character. That is an obvious slap in the face. It's also problematic that, as is characteristic with Forever21, the shirt is on a skinny white model.

    But as we know this crap is nothing new. In any case, I just want to say that I love this site and really respect you for keeping it up in addition to the full schedule that being a college student is. Looking forward to more from you after you graduate and transition to a new phase of life :)

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  11. I am a huge fan of forever 21 but I am disturbed by this portrayal. I do wonder the thought processes that went on while deciding on the character's skin colour..

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  12. You can react however you deem fit...but O-M-G seriously! Why must people reduce everything to the race this race that argument. I saw the picture and thought it was a brown girl, just a fair complexioned one. I am a very dark skinned black girl and I don't care. Me saying a lighter shade of brown isn't 'black' enough is just me adding to the shadism we so often criticize.
    Y'all need to get over yourselves, its not that deep it just a shirt, on a white woman (so..isn't the whole point of the fight against racism,to make ALL races equal.So why isn't the white girl free to wear the shirt, you go girl! she has freedom to wear whatever she wants to wear)Oh and we judge the model so quickly, what if she has curly hair too!
    Please,There are more important things to yell and react over..
    :)

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  13. Ughh, last I checked the girl in this picture which we all know is white, doesn't have hair like that. All shades of brown would have been great. And out of all brands Forever21? I like some of their clothes but, that store isn't really diverse.

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  14. Ps. do we know if they're other shades of the girl of these tee's? I'm light & I still have a issue with it.

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  15. It would be one thing if they had originated the image and were just implementing the same racially ambiguous marketing we see every day. BUT, given the fact that the entire point of the "I Love My Hair" song is to help little black girls resist the pressure to see themselves and their natural hair texture as ugly, I think it is hugely problematic to change the color of her skin! They shouldn't have used the image if they were going to nullify the entire reason it was created and proliferated in the first place. So, I have to disagree with the implication that it's something trivial. Here's a link to an interview with the man who wrote the song because he was concerned that his daughter was growing up unhappy with her appearance: http://www.wbur.org/npr/130653300/i-love-my-hair-a-fathers-tribute-to-his-daughter

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  16. @ Sami - There ARE more important things to yell over and react to, but the fact remains that the popular Sesame Street character that we all loved and adored because she celebrated her love and acceptance of self has been LIGHTENED significantly...perhaps to be a bit more marketable to the masses. You must admit that this is an ISSUE!

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  17. No your not overreacting. The whole idea of the Sesame Street "I love my hair" segment was for brown and black girls to love their kinky and curly hair. but when this company made the character lighter, it puts the idea out there that brown is not fit. SMH this is a big #fail. If they would make this shirt in different shades then YES this would be great. . .

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  18. I DO take issue with the fact that the drawing's skin color has been lightened. But I really feel like the color of the model is completely insignificant. Models are just clothes hangers as far I am concerned. If you look at the entire spread for graphic tees and tanks on the F21 website you will see that ALL the models are white. What would you think if all the models were white EXCEPT the one wearing this shirt? Seriously, what would you say if this shirt was modeled by a single curvy black girl on an all-white spread? Or what if they had just not put the shirt on a model for fear of upsetting black people?
    There would be same amount of outrage as to why the black girl has to wear the "black shirt" or why the "black shirt" is the only one without a model wearing it.
    This shirt could have been modeled by any color model in my book, EVERYONE is allowed to love their hair.
    YES, changing the skin color of the drawing was foul, but I am not going to picket outside F21 or PBS because of it.

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  19. Like....um NO thanks! You are right!! I am tired of this white skin "default" syndrome the media is spreading around! It's quite sickening really...so no, you are not over-reacting sis.



    www.datfunkyfro.blogspot.com

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  20. I suppose I'll weigh in...
    'Overreaction' probably isn't the most appropriate word, but we do have a difference in opinion. It is curious that the character's skin tone seems to have changed from the video to the tank, but the fact remains... We have a natural hair video on Sesame Street that has debuted as a tank top in Forever21, thus ensuring the spread of growing acceptance for #TeamNatural.
    I bought a shirt and I'm excited to wear it! If someone of a lighter persuasion is intrigued by either the model or "light skinned" character on my shirt, it will be a teachable moment to explain homegirl's fro on my shirt, and the curls on my head!

    Still loving the way you continue to inspire conversation!

    You rock!

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  21. One of these things just doesn't belong..(8)

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  22. Honestly, when I first saw this shirt I thought it was a light-skinned black girl. I think it's a bit much to assume that it's a white girl. Seems to me that they were trying to make a racially ambiguous character that every little girl or woman of every race could see themselves in. I get it.

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  23. My friend (who is dark skinned) and I both saw the shirt at Forever 21 and we thought she was a light skinned black girl. We both thought it was really cute! I also agree with what Ness said about her being racially ambiguous. I'm about the same complexion as the girl on the shirt and I plan on going back to Forever 21 to buy the shirt and does is my friend. I'm excited to wear it on the day of my BC!

    Also, if you don't like this shirt there are websites that sell the shirt with the brown skinned girl's face.

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  24. Capitalism will always win. SMH that is a shame!

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  25. i just wrote the company an email letting them know i was displeased, and im light skinned -__- but still what was their point in changing the characters skin tone. it was just done in very bad taste IMO

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  26. I personally think that F21 lightened the girl up so that she could appeal to other races and they could sell more shirts. She still has our hair and the skin now appeals to other races of people while still having characteristics of the original skit. I think it is still cute and as a black girl I am NOT offended by F21 trying to make money.

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  27. i saw the character as light skinned--the same color as my sisters and just a tad lighter than me.i would totally buy it because it represents me, but as a medium-dark women i probably would not buy it either.from a business standpoint, it is they were probably trying to make a tank top that curlies of any race would like, not just blacks.so, when representing people with big hair as a whole, it would make sense to go for an ambiguous skin color.

    i would also like to know, if the girl on the shirt was a dark brown girl (who did not resemble the sesame street character), how many of you would question the company's assumption that only black ladies have kinky hair? i feel as if it's a lose-lose situation.

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  28. I'm going to buy it--just so they won't use it as an excuse not to do anything else for us.

    Then I'm going to take my Crayola skin tone marker & make her MY shade. (:

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  29. I'm not offended at all by this, mainly because there are brown skinned versions of this shirt everywhere. I'm a dark skinned girl myself, but why can't the light skinned girls get some love?
    http://mrsgrapevine.com/2011/02/sesame-street-i-love-hair-t-shirt-daughters/

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  30. I would buy it! I'm a very fair skinned 100% black female with an afro. I love graphic tees and always look for ones that have something to do with natural hair because I just think it's cute. But I can NEVER find a shirt with a picture of a fro that is attached to someone of my complexion :-/ as if because I'm light I can't have kinky/curly hair. There are LOADS of shirts that cater to natural hair and depict brown skin women only...so yes, I'd buy, hell I'd buy more than one.

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  31. Preach Epitome! I am in the EXACT same boat as you...naturals aren't all "plus sized" with Hershey kiss skin tones.

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  32. Isn't forever 21 owned and run by Asians ? if that's the case, enough said. lol!

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  33. Wow. Overreacting. Plain and simple.

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  34. Idk about this one. I happen to like the shirt because the character looks more like me, BUT if they were gonna recreate the character they shoulda been precise. I highly doubt that they thought to themselves "light-skinned Black women are prettier so we NEED to change it..." but hey.

    They probably should have used a African-American model, but when do they ever? I personally don't shop at Forever 21 because the cute stuff that they do have will be worn by my entire city.

    Great post!

    WhatAlexWrites.blogspot.com

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  35. Seriously you are tripping. I don't think the character has been lightened at all. The overall look of the shirt is faded. Also, the muppet is not very dark skinned to begin with.
    I think it is an accurate portrayal and all y'all need to find something better to be up in arms about.

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  36. have all you ladies seen this version of the shirt? love it even more!

    https://welovefine.com/shop/CHARACTER/Sesame-street/Love-My-Hair.html

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  37. Can some1 tell me what to type on search box on forever 21 website. I can't find the tank :{ Personally, I prefer the lighter version, because I am very light skinned, but I agree 100% that both skin tones should be offered. If any1 knows where I can order the tank at directly, please give me details!

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  38. I'd rather not start my comment off with 'so I'm very light skinny and I love this shirt', because that's not the point. It's pretty evident in these comments, for and against the shirt, that shadeism is loud and clear.
    As for the shirt, I couldn't care less for it. I have better things to rock than a shirt with a cartoon afro on it, pur-lease.

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  39. God, I don't need some damn puppet to tell me i'm sexy

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  40. AT least they have a shirt like that. Black people can never be happy smh

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  41. Black people come in different shades not just dark skin. I feel offended sometimes cause I am light skinned and people trip because of stuff like this. I agree with epitome.

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    1. It's not the point of being light skin it's the point on how she's originally made and they just made her light because it's in a forever 21 store we know black people come in all colors but i prefer the shirt to be as is for us black women loving are natural hair!!

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  42. Colorism has been part of African-American culture for decades. We have to learn that black is beautiful in every single shade and every texture. Am I surprised by the shirt? No not at all. The only color major companies support is the minty tinted green in their wallets and bank account. The model is white and the character is lighter because they know that this combination will attract the most buyers. It's actually nothing personal. It doesn't make it right, but it gets them the sale.

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  43. This site carries a similiar shirt with a girl that looks far more like the original Muppet. Oh & it comes in several colors.
    http://www.welovefine.com/product.php?id_product=249

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    1. I was just looking at this site & I'll be getting mine form there

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  44. I so agree why change her color that's the whole purpose of loving who you are and how u love and changed your hair to be natural giving up relaxers and flatiron and much more

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  45. Yea you're overreacting. In replicating the Sesame Street muppet, it should have been the same colour as on the show (for the purposes of authenticity). However, there are multiple shades of black people - so what is more practical is to write the company and suggest that they carry the shirt with muppets of multiple colours.

    I'm black with kinky hair, but lighter than the muppet and I would get the shirt regardless of what shade of black the muppet is.

    As for the model that's not even an issue - they clearly just wanted customers to see what it looked like on a human being!

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  46. I know this post is two years old but I would like to comment. First let me say growing up in Columbia, TN 20 minutes from Pulaski, TN where the KKK was established has been an interesting view of African "American" life in a predominately Caucasian world! Initially I looked at the image on the shirt and thought, "Oh that's a cute tank and I loved the video." Let me tell you I did not even notice the white model wearing the shirt until all of you wonderful people pointed it out. WOW, I am a dark skinned African American woman and I didn't even catch the innuendo being portrayed. My whole life I have been taught by society, the media, the educational system, African Americans, Caucasians and every other race that white is best and if you can't be, at least be light skinned- it's superior. I have begun to wear my hair in its natural state and it's the talk of the town with my family. It’s not necessarily that they are embracing my decision, more so that they are questioning my motives. When did it become a problem to wear your hair the way it grows out of your scalp? Why can't a brown character like the character in the initial video be used? But I really should not expect much else, when you grow up where I have, you realize that racism is not as muted as America likes to purport.

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